Starry Flounder

Platichthys stellatus

Scott Gilmore/iNaturalist

The Science


This fish gets its name from its large, star-shaped scales on its eyed side! [2]

starry flounder held by a person, net with water in background held up by other people
Lee Cain/iNaturalist

Taxonomic description 

  • Has a diamond shaped flat body with white to orange and black bars on the dorsal and anal fins. [1]
  • Both its eyes are on the upward facing side of the body (dark brown), while its underside is white, and it is usually left-eyed. [1]
  • Can grow up to 1 m (3 ft) and weigh a maximum of 9.1 kg (20 lbs). [2]


  • Found throughout the coast of the Northern Pacific, in Korea and southern Japan through to Alaska and Canada. In California, it is more common north of Santa Barbra. [3]

Life history 

  • Spends its summers in shallow water and estuaries, and moves into deeper water in the winter. It prefers water with lower salinities. [3]
  • Males can live up to 24 years and females can live up to 17 years. [4]
  • Spawning season extends from November through February, and peaks in December and January. Spawning usually occurs in water shallower than 25 fathoms. [1]


  • Most commonly found in mud, sand, and gravel bottoms in coastal ocean waters and even be in fresh water. [1]
  • Eats a wide variety of prey, including worms, crabs, clams, sand dollars, and brittle stars. Larger individuals may eat fishes like sardines and sanddabs. [2]


The Fishery


This fish can be caught using sardines, clams, shrimp, squid, or worms as bait! [2]

fishermen on boat with scoop net, one person is throwing back starry flounder into the water
Matt Muir/iNaturalist

Seasonal availability 

  • Starry flounder can be fished year-round. [5]

Regulatory and managing authority 

  • The starry flounder fishery is managed federally by the NOAA fisheries and, as established by the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) through the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP). [17]
  • As established by the Marine Life Management Act, the California Fish and Game Commission (CFGC) regulates the fishery in state waters, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) manages this fishery. [18]
  • The California Groundfish Collective combines input from the industry and government entities to inform regulatory and/ management measures for this fishery. [19]

Gear type

  • Caught commercially by trawl, but can be fished recreationally by baited hook and line. [2,6]

Status of the fishery 

  • This fishery is currently of low concern, as populations are not overfished and appear to be healthy. [6]

Potential ecosystem impacts

  • Bottom trawling affects the sea floor, and unregulated trawling can lead to habitat damage. [7]

The Seafood


Starry flounder tastes good sautéed, fried, steamed, or roasted! [10]
fried flounder with scallion and cilantro garnish and soy sauce
Fried flounder with scallion and cilantro garnish and soy sauce. bionicgrrrl/flickr
Starry flounder nutrition info

Edible portions 

  • The skin and meat can be consumed, and this fish if often fileted. [10]

Description of meat

  • Mild-tasting, but can have a shellfish flavor. It is slightly firm and flakey. [9]

Culinary uses 

  • Can be sautéed or fried. Can be used to substitute for other flatfish, with the exception of Dover. [9,10]
  • For a flounder filets with lemon butter sauce recipe, visit Leite's Culinaria. [12]
  • An Indian fried flounder recipe can be found on Youtube. [20]

Nutritional information 

  • Nutritional information based on 100g of raw flounder can be found on the table to the right. [8]

Toxicity report

  • No known toxins. 

Seasonal availability

  • This fish is available year-round, but availability is sporadic as it is not targeted by fisheries. [9]


[1] California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2013. California Marine Sportfish Identification: Flatfishes. Web.…. Accesed 13 July 2020. 

[2] California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2017. Creature Feature: Starry Flounder. Web.…. Accessed 13 July 2020. 

[3] Froese, R., Bailly, N. Fishbase. n.d. Platichthys stellatus. Web. Accessed 13 July 2020. 

[4] Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. n.d. Starry flounder. Web. Accessed 13 July 2020. 

[5] California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2020. 2020-2021 Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations. Web. Accessed 13 July 2020. 

[6] Driscoll, J. 2014. Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. Arrowtooth flounder, Dover sole, English sole, Pacific sanddab, Petrale sole, Rex sole, Starry flounder. Web.…. Accessed 13 July 2020. 

[7] Lindholm, J. et al. Ecological effects of bottom trawling on the structural attributes of fish habitat in unconsolidated sediments along the central California outer continental shelf. 2015. NOAA Fishery Bulletin 113, pp. 82-96. doi: 10.7755/FB.113.1.8

[8] Self. n.d. Fish, flatfish (flounder and sole species), raw. Web.…. Accessed 20 July 2020.

[9] Monterey Fish Market. n.d. Starry Flounder-Platichthys stellatus. Web. Accessed 23 July 2020. 

[10] Food Network. n.d. A Guide to Buying and Cooking Flounder. Web.…. Accessed 23 July 2020.

[11] NOAA Fisheries. n.d. West Coast Groundifsh. Web. Accessed 23 July 2020. 

[12] Leite's Culinaria. 2020. Flounder with Lemon Butter Sauce. Web.…. Accessed 23 July 2020. 

[13] Gilmore, S. iNaturalist. 2019. Digital image. Web. Accessed 25 February 2021. 

[14] Cain, L. iNaturalist. 2014. Digital image. Web. Accessed 25 February 2021. 

[15] Muir, M. iNaturalist. 2014. Digital image. Web. Accessed 25 February 2021. 

[16] bionicgrrrl. flickr. 2012. fried flounder @ fuleen. Digital image. Web. Accessed 25 February 2021. 

[17] Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan. 2019. Pacific Fishery Management Council. Web.…. Accessed 21 August 2020. 

[18] Marine Life Management Act. n.d. California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Web. Accessed 24 August 2020.

[19] The Nature Conservancy. 2015. The California Groundfish Collective. Web. Accessed 2 December 2020.

[20] South Indian Chakhum. Youtube. 2020. South Indian Chakhum Series 10: Flounder(Adalei) fish fry Recipe in Manipuri with English subtitle. Web. Accessed 3 February 2021.